“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”
— Christina G. Rossetti
And so we come to end of that seemingly-endless three-month cycle of sand, sunshine, and silly blockbuster to take stock what did or didn’t happen. Some of these will have greater relevance than others: as long as I’m unemployed, I didn’t have the cash (or time) to melt my brain with Hollywood’s weekly offerings; I haven’t been to major summer concert or festival since I was about 16 or 17, so the idea of doing so never even crosses my mind; and I’m sure my waistline is grateful for sitting out the innumerable Bay Area food festivals.
But those are all luxuries, not all that important in the greater scheme of things; it’s the assignments I missed that made me feel unaccomplished: I let a few writing deadlines fall by the wayside; I didn’t get hired at any of the hundreds of jobs for which I applied; I left a production at the start of the summer because I had the worst director of all time (a blog topic for which an entry is forthcoming); and, ofcourse, I didn’t get to finish my summer reading list.
Of the six books compiled on that list, I read two. Two. Three whole months, and I got only 1/3 of the list done.
I’d like to take some solace in knowing that I’m not the only one who fell behind on their list, but I don’t. The simple truth is that my inner procrastinator won out: I told myself that I had plenty of time to get to those books, so I had no great incentive to seek them out with any sense of urgency. Given my affinity for literature in general/physical print in particular, I didn’t – and still don’t – feel good about the idea of letting books go unread. That, and the fact that the first book I read wasn’t anything to write home about.
The reason I’m still in high spirits is because although I missed out on finishing those books within during the summer, I’m still eager to get to those books. Plus there are more books which I’m eager to tackle, so I’ll toss them onto the pile (my inner bookworm’s appetite is insatiable). One of the two books I read was a great delight and I recommend it to everyone.
Best of all, I received two books as gifts over the summer, both from friends.
The first was my friend Matt Werner’s independently-published book Oakland in Popular Memory. It’s a collection of interviews he conducted with artists and musicians, all related to his hometown just over the bridge. It’s an insightful and enlightening collection of that wonderful city across the bridge.
The other was my gift for helping finance this year’s San Francisco Olympians Festival, for which I will be a writer. The book, Songs of Hestia (edited by Stuart Bousel, intro by Marissa Skudlarek, cover art by Cody Rishell) is a collection of five of the twelve commissioned plays from the festival’s first year in 2010. I was pleased to be part of that initial year – I’m credited as actor in two of the plays listed – and the following year. This book just shows how far we’ve all come in such a short time.
And that is how I will look back on my literary summer: the books I was told to read were the ones I was less interested in reading; but the ones I had the pleasure of reading just served to remind me why I love the printed word so much.